Unsolicited dick pics – whyyyyy?

I recently spoke to Gareth May, writing for Dazed, about dick pics and (some) men’s overwhelming compulsion to send them — regardless often of whether or not the recipient actually wants them.

You can read Gareth’s piece — “Why do men send dick pics no-one asked for?” — over on Dazed right here (5/4/16). According to Gareth, “the 21st century will be known for many things and the rise of the unsolicited cock pic is one of them – what’s the motivation?”

And you can check out our full correspondence re unsolicited dick pics below — enjoy!

Gareth May: From a sociologist’s point of view, have men always waved their dicks around (to people who don’t want to see them)? Or is this a fairly modern phenomena?

DrCT: Like most social behaviors, there’s nothing really new under the sun when it comes to sexual display — though technology certainly makes it seem different (and allows for far more opportunity for sexual display). Men have been flashing unsuspecting people in public and highlighting their boners on trains for decades — even centuries. The unsolicited dick pic is just another iteration of the same type of behavior.


GM: Obviously tech allows people to send dick pics now but what are the social and sexual factors that contribute to men feeling the need to send pictures of their privates to, let’s be honest, mostly women? Is there an element of assertion there? Or control over women?

DrCT: The “why” behind men’s motivations re sending dick pics is likely as varied as men themselves. Dick pics (be they solicited or unsolicited) are not a heterosexual phenomenon though — the desire to brandish/share one’s penis is not limited to heterosexual men. The gender power piece of the conversation become more complex when you consider heterosexual men’s motivations specifically though. It may be that men are trying to shock women or exert their sexuality “by force” in a world where that’s becoming increasingly vocally intolerant to presumptuous sexual display. It also may be an attempt to put a toe into the waters of erotic expression. Though potentially misfired in this specific scenarios, it’s possible that some (heterosexual?) men are attempting to explore their own sexual expression is a manner that was, historically, limited.


GM: Lastly, why do men still send unsolicited dick pics despite the obvious increase in “shaming”?  Maybe men don’t feel shame the same way women do about their bodies?

DrCT: It may be that some men are impervious to and/or unaware of the increased shaming associated with unsolicited dick pics. On a more sociological level, it may also be that some still feel “protected” by the anonymity we still allow most men (if they choose it). Put simply, women’s bodies are often “on display” — even when clothed — far more intensely than men’s. For many many men though, the hallmark of sexuality (the penis, which we’ve positioned socially and historically in this way) is still very very hidden. So, so what if someone posts your dick pic? Unless they attach your name to it, no one will know it’s you.

Afterward: In thinking about this topic further, the idea that some men may be struggling with erotic display — something that women deal with basically starting at puberty, whether they want it or not — is especially interesting. Maybe those dick pics are their version of a sexy pic — and when was the last time you complained when a lady send you a sexy pic, solicited or otherwise?

unsolicited dick pics

(pictured: image via Dazed)

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Got a sociology question? Need some social justice informed life advice? Contact Dr. Chauntelle right here.

Get Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment on Amazon and CT.com

2 thoughts on “Unsolicited Dick Pics – Why?! (commentary on Dazed)

  • May 18, 2016 at 2:33 am

    The observation at the end concerning the struggle for men to find means for erotic expression and “when was the last time you complained when a lady sent you a sexy pic” hits on a great point. The penis seems to be the most vulgar sexualized organ of both sexes and it’s difficult to take a good picture of it to begin with so pictures end up looking vulgar and disgusting and lacking in erotic appeal. There is also a highly feminine element of men taking pictures of themselves where they are not willing or able to self-assess pictures of themselves because it taps into a self-critical element most men are actually unwilling to venture into. Most men, unless they are incredibly fit, will have a hard time making their whole body look good whereas there is a more acceptable range of what is considered erotic and beautiful when produced by a woman. So although we traditionally think women are the sex that most struggle with body image, most men would be much less comfortable going through an erotic photo session where they must tap into a deep connection with their body in an attempt to produce something beautiful. So most men will just snap a quick picture of their dick and think that is enough or be unwilling to explore the finer details of lighting, posture, body position and so forth. It also is hard for men to accept that women just aren’t as interested in what a dick looks like whereas men can endlessly get lost in the finer details of parts, especially the sexual parts. I’m sure to most women, a smile is much sexier than a dick and the dick is just a vehicle to express that smile more deeply in the right place…

  • May 18, 2016 at 2:58 am

    The ‘unsolicited’ aspect is another problem. The female body has been highly sexualized in our culture in the sense that women are the ‘fairer sex’. A woman is always exposed in the very nature and essence of being a woman. A man does not have the same level of exposure in simply being a man. Just a little bit of cleavage and slightly tight pants can seem like sexual exposure for a woman, but a man must literally whip out his dick to have only part that is sexualized on him exposed. I’m not saying this is necessarily true for men, I’m talking about feelings and perceptions. Women probably don’t feel this as much as men because it’s easier for them to subtly and tactfully display their sexual attractiveness. The penis does not really come into action until there is intense desire and passion as the erection is a highly physical display of sexual arousal. Men are typically in a heightened state of sexual desire more so than women and so a man might be led to think that dick pics will heighten female sexual desire and men will send them only to find out that the women find it disgusting and not a sexual turn-on and are like a fart in church. So yes, men are struggling to have their version of a sexy pic in a media-driven culture where pictures say so much about us.

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